About the power of WE: Leading with Compassion

Continuing on the path of one of my previous articles (About people skills and empathic leadership) where I wrote about people skills and that the ability to ‘think outside of the box’ and to create a climate of exchange, knowledge sharing and trust while leading is of major importance for providing direction and innovation to any company, I have to add the following: in fact leading with compassion and empathy is truly the most effective type of leadership. Why? Well let me take the time to explain this to you!

Compassion can be defined as the “deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.”[1] In his book Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan gives a definition of compassion that has tree components, given by Tibetan Buddhist scholar Thupten Jinpa:

1. A cognitive component: “I understand you.”

2. An affective component: “I feel for you.”

3. A motivational component: “I want to help you.”[2]

This leads directly to asking a simple question, as the excellent blog post of Louisa and George Altman put it rightly: do you work in a WE or a ME centered workplace? Or as Bill George, former Medtronic CEO puts it[3]: going from ‘I’ to ‘We’, leaving selfish behavior behind and acknowledging the effort of the whole.

Actually establishing a sense of belonging and trust, a culture of openness and care for each other thus bringing compassion to a team or a group of people as a leader, can have amazing effects as I have discovered for myself. Of course, it might take longer as you don’t just do things without explaining, acting top-down, but you communicate in a transparent way, opening up a dialogue, letting people comment and listen to their concerns/ideas. But at the end of the day, it will make your team very strong as its members will have established a strong relationship of trust with you and the others. Trust on the other hand is the foundation of effectively working teams. Finally, bringing compassion and empathy to your team will also highly motivate its members and if you would ask them to walk the extra mile to achieve an extraordinary goal, they would do so without even asking.

Now, imagine if more teams in an organization would think and act in the above described way; it would create a corporate climate where employees would feel at ease, understood and valorized. At the same time, excellent results would be achieved. The dream for every CEO: from good to great and from I/ME to WE…

Now: in what kind of an environment do you work in?


[1] The Free Dictionary, ‘compassion’: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/compassion

[2] Page 199, Edition of 2012.

[3] http://www.billgeorge.org/page/true-north

Let me know what you think!